I am so sick of hearing about the "mad black woman," whether it's directed at the first lady or someone right here in Jackson.
My parents introduced me to the idea that I'd be tagged with this foolishness when I was a very young child. The reason it's so foolish is that every woman gets angry, right? Regardless of their racial background, is anger saved special to the black woman? And, for that matter, don't all men get angry, too, and children even?
Of course, everyone gets angry. But what people mean with this focus on the black woman is that we supposedly take anger to a place that other categories of people don't. The place that is so disturbing that other non-black, non-female people get to label it and give it a persona all its own. When a black woman gets angry, we supposedly lose ourselves. We lose our touch with reality and rationalism. We simply turn into these alien-like forces that cannot be controlled. Our anger comes from the strangest places, and it's never warranted, right? PLEASE.
This idea has become so much a part of American culture that most modern mothers of African descent who have the luxury of having a good bit of sense spend most of our time fighting against this stereotypic idea. We try to hide our anger, so much so that we end up not being passionate about things. We try to pacify people who piss us off—so much so that we tolerate things that should not be accepted, from our bosses to our mates. We tend to ignore, overlook, accept and even at times encourage things that we know should be dealt with simply to avoid that moment when we get the "Oh sh*t, she's turning into the Mad Black Woman." We then get a look as if, at any moment, our eyes will turn neon green, our shirts will split down the middle, and muscles will begin to pop up all over our newly hulking bodies.
Here's the thing, though. The mad black woman, or MBW, festers because she has tried as long as she could to not appear angry that by the time she does indeed unleash her anger (which everyone else is free to display), you are lucky if she doesn't punch out some teeth or have steam coming from her ears. But, who wouldn't be that way if they had to spend the majority of their lives trying to act like the emotion of being angry, disappointed, hurt, upset, simply doesn't exist? Tell me ... who?
This brings me to this outrageous fiasco of Michelle Obama being a MBW because her husband, who is the leader of the free world, took a picture with a woman at a Mandela memorial event. Ugh! That is the most insulting thing I've ever witnessed without being directly affected. This nation cannot even bring itself to give the first lady of the United States enough credit to believe that she would not be angry that her husband is taking a picture next to her. Why was she supposedly angry? Because a photographer caught her not smiling. So, not smiling (at an event for a world leader who had died at age 95) equals mad. Yes, if you are a black woman.
The first lady sees her husband hug and kiss thousands of women, but on that particular day, she was the MBW. Michelle Obama, a woman of great grace and dignity, picked a day that the entire world would be watching her and her husband to be mad about a photograph. Yes. That's fair.
The most disgusting part isn't that society feeds into this and then shoves it down our throats via the news outlets and social media. It's not that by insulting our FLOTUS, in turn, all professional, classy, proud, married women (and not just black) are being degraded. The worst part is the fact that black women, young women, think that Michelle Obama picked this day to let her MBW out, and that it's cute. It's almost as if they are giving this silent cheer saying, "Yes, we knew you had it in you."
Sisters, please. We are better than that. You have been programmed to believe that it's natural and totally acceptable to be foolish when it comes to your reactions to things. We do this to ourselves.
While some of us are trying hard to murder the MBW idealism, some of us are idealizing it. We will never get a break through that way. Mad and black together describe who people think I am. I am not cool with that. When I get angry, it's because I was born into an angry world because I'm black and I'm a woman. But I refuse to be told that I have to act a certain way because of it. It's an insult that has changed the very way that we view ourselves and our sisters.
Whose fault is that?
Funmi "Queen" Franklin is a word lover, poet and advocate for women and sisterhood. She struggles with an addiction to reality television.